In our country, there is a general feeling that only positions backed by actual fact should drive public policy. ‘Religion’ is perceived to be the realm of personal opinion. Even Christians tend to accept the view that people are allowed to have their opinion, but they aren’t allowed to impose that opinion on others. The result is that many Christians refrain from acting ‘politically’ because they see their own beliefs as nothing more than ‘mere opinion.’
Secularists tend to be people who have dispensed with ‘religion’ altogether, and like to think that they are entirely ‘fact driven.’
When these ideas collide, we observe something very curious: secular humanists conclude that they can advocate for anything that they want in the public sphere, because nothing they believe is ‘religious, ‘ while distinctly Christian viewpoints are forbidden from entering the public domain, since those will be, by definition, ‘religious.’ And again, even Christians gravitate to that view.
This tends to lead to debates and discussions and policy proposals that take the ‘facts’ of the secularists as the starting points. We are expected to proceed on their terms. And why not? Surely without the ‘religious’ component, those ‘facts’ are as close to actually being real descriptions of the world as one could get, right?
But what if ‘religion’ and ‘fact’ are not opposites?
That leads to some very important questions: is it really the case that Christianity consists of articles of faith that do not correspond to the real world? Or, to put it another way, is it a fact, or not, that Jesus rose from the dead? Or: is it a fact, or not, that people are made in the image of God, male and female? Is it a fact, or not, that God made ‘marriage’ in this way largely with children in mind? Or, is it a fact, or not, that since we are made in the image of God, we have intrinsic value that comes from Him, and not from Man? Moreover, if it is a fact that God became man, and in Jesus redeemed mankind, is it not true, in fact, that God has doubled down on humanity, deepening the intrinsic value of each and every individual.
If, in fact, we should keep our religion out of politics, and these statements above are merely articles of faith and not grounded in reality or fact, then by all means, we should keep our views on abortion out of politics.
On the other hand, this cuts both ways. As it happens, many of the ‘facts’ entertained by ‘secularists’ as ‘facts’ have no better basis than Christians have. That being the case, why should the secularist be allowed to impose their ideas on us, but we don’t have the right to try to do the same to them?
At its core, the issue of abortion centers around whether or not one feels it is appropriate to make the judgment that some people are of less value than other people. Debates about ‘personhood’ or ‘when life begins’ are important, but secondary. This is evidenced by the fact that we can find people who support abortion on demand who nonetheless concede that life begins at conception, and perfectly willing even to accept that they are ‘persons.’ (Here is one such example)
Secularists tend to believe that society, rather than God, has the right to decide the value of a person. I ask you, dear secularist, on what basis of fact do you have for this view? Is it not merely your opinion that people do not have intrinsic value? Is this not, in actuality, your own religious view? How about you keep your religious views about abortion out of politics, too?
As it happens, secularists do believe that there is a factual basis for giving such power to ‘society,’ but they are usually very shy about making the connections explicit. They didn’t use to be so shy–say, from about 1860 to 1945. Some aren’t very shy today, but generally they prefer not to be to clear about that, because it would horrify most of the population.
Bottom line: this whole idea about ‘religion’ and ‘fact’ being opposites and religion the stuff of ‘opinion’ is all a smokescreen and a tactic designed to get Christians to exclude themselves from the public domain, and giving the secularists unfettered free rein.
But the issue of abortion is literally a matter of life and death. It is not an accident that Christians tend to be pro-life and secularists tend to be pro-choice. Each group has its own reasons for how it views the real nature of people, as a matter of fact.
Unfortunately, as already indicated, and as many I think will agree, Christians tend to view their own assessments of just what the facts are as ‘religious’ and fall into the trap of thinking that ‘facts’ and ‘religion’ are incompatible contradiction in terms.
This is a trap we must not allow ourselves to fall into. The consequences if we do could be, and I believe, will be, and in fact, already are, dire.
To counteract this tendency within the Christian church, I am pleased that my ministry’s fourth annual online apologetics conference is drawing a clear line between the propositions that Christianity takes to be actual fact and the implications of those facts to life issues. I have discovered that people are willing to advocate for something in proportion to their confidence in the validity and truthfulness of their position, so insofar as people have solid reasons for believing that Christianity is actually true, they will more likely be ‘pro-life.’ And they will also be more willing to stand up for the unborn, the handicapped, the disabled, the old, and the infirm.
Given the fact that tens of millions of unborn people have already died, I find it hard to say that this willingness is needed more than ever, but with the implementation of Obamacare and universal ‘health’ insurance (read: rationing) right around the corner, I fear it is accurate.
And this isn’t a mere political sentiment; the Gospel itself is at stake, because according to the Gospel, Christ died for all–including those who had not yet been born. We cannot in good conscience allow our society to further institutionalize the notion that people’s value must be measured according to what they can offer to the state, or their burden on the same… to be dispensed with, once they no longer have utility.
And that’s a viewpoint that I think most would agree really ought to be imposed on our fellow man.